February: mackerel and rhubarb

February: mackerel and rhubarb

Recipe: Bread-crusted mackerel with rhubarb sauce and an apple and radish salad

Now, this is a recipe I saw on Masterchef last year. John and Greg seemed bowled over by it and I thought it looked rather intriguing. So I served it as a starter for a dinner party recently and it went down a treat – nice and light, and unusual without being too wacky. I omitted the dill as I’m not a fan – bit too murky for my liking – but if you are, sprinkle a bit on the mackerel before rolling it up in the bread. The photo above is of a rather disappointing recreation – on my first attempt the rhubarb sauce was a much more vibrant pink, but you get the picture. Just don’t overcook the rhubarb.


4 slices white bread, crusts removed

4 mackerel fillets, bones removed

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tbsp olive oil/groundnut oil

Large knob of unsalted butter

4 sticks rhubarb, washed and cut into 5cm/2in pieces

200g/7oz caster sugar

1 lemon, juice only

5 tbsp olive oil/groundnut oil

3 tbsp cider vinegar/white wine vinegar

8 radishes

2 apples, Jazz/Pink Lady/Granny Smith

Salad leaves (pea shoots/lambs lettuce/frisee


  • The recipe listed on the BBC doesn’t suggest doing this, but I fried the mackerel fillets skin-side down for a couple of minutes as I didn’t want soggy skin inside the parcels.
  • Use a rolling pin to roll out the slices of bread as thinly as possible into a rectangle. Place a mackerel fillet in the middle of each piece of bread. 
  • Season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper and then wrap up tightly to form a parcel. Repeat with the rest of the bread and fish. Place on a plate, transfer to the fridge and leave to chill until needed.
  • For the sauce, place the rhubarb in a saucepan with the sugar and a splash of water. Bring to the boil and then simmer until soft.
  • Allow the rhubarb to cool slightly, then transfer it to a food processor and blend until smooth. Pass through a sieve into a clean pan and add a little lemon juice to taste. Keep warm until needed.
  • For the salad, whisk together the oil and vinegar in a small bowl to make a dressing and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  • Finely slice the radish and then core and finely slice or julienne the apple. Combine with the leaves in a large bowl and dress.
  • Heat two tablespoons of oil in a large frying pan, then add the mackerel parcels. Fry for two minutes, or until crisp and golden brown and then turn and fry for a further minute.
  • Add a large knob of butter and baste the parcels until even more golden brown. Remove from the pan and drain on kitchen paper.
  • Slice the parcels in half and serve with the rhubarb sauce and salad.

Click here to go to the original recipe on the BBC website



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